Uber broadens lead over taxis, rental cars among business travelers

Ride-hailing service Uber continued to widen its commanding lead over other forms of paid ground transportation among business travelers during the second quarter of 2016.

According to data compiled by automated travel and entertainment expense management software provider Certify, ride-hailing services including Uber and Lyft were claimed on 48.7 percent of the expense reports that had expenses for ground transportation. Car rentals continue to decline and were at 37.3 percent while taxi use has declined 51 percent over the last two years and accounted for only 14 percent of paid rides.

Graphic from Certify SpendSmart Report 2Q16When compared only to taxis and other ride-hailing services, Uber was the clear favorite. Uber rides accounted for more than 72.5 percent of the rides expensed while taxi use amounted to 22.3 percent. Ride-hailing service Lyft was used 5.2 percent of the time.

The results were based on the analysis of more than 10 million business expense reports processed by Certify for 2Q16. They are detailed in the Certify SpendSmart report, which is compiled each quarter as a tool to help controllers, accountants and business travelers make informed choices about company T&E expense spending, according to the company.

“Our data shows the real-time transformation of the ground transportation category and how modern business travelers have wholly embraced ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft,” Robert Neveu, Certify CEO said in a statement.

Certify initially identified the emerging ride-hailing growth trend among U.S. business travelers in the first quarter of 2014, and the most recent data shows the continuation of that trend in the corporate travel segment. While Uber remains the dominant ride-hailing provider, Lyft is up nearly three percent on the quarter and now accounts for more than five percent of the category total when Uber and Lyft are compared to taxis, indicating a maturation of the ride-hailing industry.

“What we’re seeing now is really the emergence of the kind of market forces you find in more mature industries,” Neveu said, acknowledging market “[f]orces that will invariably drive downward pressure on pricing, as well as an increased demand for new and better services in the future.”

The SpendSmart report also showed business travelers’ preferences in air travel providers, business meals and lodging. As in previous reports, there are some discrepancies between the travelers' preferred providers and those that are actually expensed the most often. For example, although travelers named Hilton Hotels and Westin Hotels and their favorite and third-favorite, respectively, neither chain was among the top five of hotel stays actually expensed.

While the report does not provide a reason for the differences between the preferred providers and those used, factors are likely to include corporate travel policies and vendor agreements, availability of the preferred providers at the time of travel, and other reasons.

Most-Expensed Restaurants: 
Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX): 4.81 percent of expenses, averaging $11.55 per receipt
McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD): 2.83 percent, averaging $8.75
Panera Bread (NASDAQ:PRNA): 1.65 percent, averaging $39.52
Subway: 1.6 percent, averaging $16.09
Dunkin’ Donuts (NASDAQ:DNKN): 1.31 percent, averaging $12.38

Most Expensed Restaurants by Meal 
Breakfast: Starbucks 16.18 percent
Lunch: Subway 3.49 percent
Dinner: McDonald’s 1.81 percent

Top Rated Restaurants (On a scale from 1 to 5, as indicated by travelers)
Chick-Fil-A 4.5
Panera Bread 4.3
Jimmy John’s 4.2
Starbucks 4.2
Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) 4.1

Subway Sandwiches, Chick-Fil-A and Jimmy John's are privately held companies.

Most Expensed Airlines 
Delta (NYSE:DAL): 21.14 percent, averaging $427.41
American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL): 19.94 percent, averaging $306.83
Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV): 14.46 percent, averaging $297.22
United Airlines (NYSE:UAL): 13.42 percent, averaging $413.02
Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK): 1.39 percent, averaging $252.93

Top Rated Airlines (On a scale from 1 to 5, as indicated by travelers)
jetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) 4.5
Alaska Airlines 4.4
Southwest Airlines 4.3
Delta 4.2
American Airlines 3.7

Most-Expensed Hotels 
Hampton Inn: 9.29 percent, averaging $227.03 per stay
Marriott: 8.54 percent, averaging $244.87
Courtyard by Marriott: 6.87 percent, averaging $179.04
Holiday Inn Express: 4.73 percent, averaging $221.27
Hilton Garden Inn: 4.59 percent, averaging $201.54

Top Rated Hotels (On a scale from 1 to 5, as indicated by travelers)
Hilton 4.3
Marriott 4.3
Westin Hotels 4.3
Courtyard by Marriott 4.2
Hilton Garden Inn 4.2

Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn and Hilton are brands of Hilton Worldwide (NASDAQ:HLT). Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott are brands of Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR). Westin Hotels are part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. (NYSE:HOT).

Most Expensed Car-Rental Services
National: 24.61 percent, averaging $187.11
Enterprise: 16.34 percent, averaging $218.60
Hertz: 15.38 percent, averaging $201.25
Avis: 13.14 percent, averaging $190.99
Budget: 4.20 percent, averaging $196.12

Top Rated Car-Rental Services (On a scale from 1 to 5, as indicated by travelers)
National: 4.3
Enterprise: 4.2
Avis: 4.1
Hertz: 3.9
Budget: 3.8

Hertz is (NYSE:HTZ); all other rental car companies are operated by Enterprise Holdings, which is privately held.

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InfoGraphics provided by Certify
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